Natural anti-inflammatory foods not only reduce pain and inflammation but also help keep your body healthy. Anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, ginger, olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts are great for helping to reduce inflammation naturally.
An anti-inflammatory diet can help relieve symptoms of arthritis and prevent chronic diseases from developing. Natural remedies for inflammation can also help reduce your dependency on anti-inflammatory painkillers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
NSAIDs Kill Thousands Each Year and Increase the Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack
The British Medical Journal reported that taking NSAIDs increases the risk of heart attacks. In addition, the FDA warns: “The risk of heart attack or stroke can occur as early as the first weeks of using an NSAID. The risk may increase with longer use of the NSAID.”
The American Journal of Medicine states: “It has been estimated conservatively that 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur among patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis every year in the United States.”
Try to Use Natural Alternatives to NSAIDs
You can use anti-inflammatory supplements in the form of turmeric, ginger, garlic or cinnamon powder. Increasing the number of anti-inflammatory foods, herbs, and spices will also help avoid eating foods that can cause inflammation.
In this article, you will find out the best natural foods that reduce inflammation and naturally inhibit pain. This anti-inflammatory foods’ list will also help to strengthen your immune system and boost your general health.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to infections or injury. Acute (short-term) inflammation happens when an increase of white blood cells and other antibodies go to the injured area to repair tissue or kill infections.
Researchers say that inflammation generally causes redness, swelling, pain, warmth, and possibly a loss of function. If you have a cold or flu virus, inflammation will generally make you feel sick, exhausted, and bring on a fever. This type of inflammation is necessary and will help you recover from your illness.
Inflammation that lasts over a period of months or even years is called chronic inflammation. Doctors say that chronic inflammation can be caused if your body doesn’t destroy infectious germs in your body.
Also, recurring short-term inflammation or the effects of oxidative stress on the body can also cause long-term inflammation. So why should you be concerned about chronic inflammation?
Reasons to reduce inflammation naturally
Using natural remedies for inflammation is important because long-term inflammation can cause chronic diseases. The World Health Organization says that chronic inflammatory diseases are one of the greatest threats to human life. For example, inflammation is associated with diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, inflammatory bowel conditions, and asthma.
This means that reducing inflammation naturally can help protect you against joint pain, coronary heart disease, allergies, or the symptoms of diabetes. Information in the journal EMBO Reports said that chronic inflammatory conditions can also affect certain genes in the body that can lead to various types of cancer.
How Foods Can Naturally Fight Inflammation
Many foods have properties that help to reduce inflammatory responses in your body. For example, ginger is an anti-inflammatory herb or spice that blocks certain enzymes that are connected with inflammation.
One of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory herbs is turmeric. This is mainly because of its main active ingredient called curcumin. Scientists have found that curcumin increases antioxidants and destroys free radicals that can lead to inflammation.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School say that there are many anti-inflammation foods. These foods naturally fight inflammation because they contain polyphenols (antioxidants) that have inflammation-fighting properties.
Generally, anti-inflammatory foods are not processed and contribute to your overall health. The researchers from Harvard report that foods on the anti-inflammatory foods’ list also help to improve your physical and emotional well-being.
Supplements and foods that naturally lower inflammation work in the same way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These reduce inflammation by blocking enzymes called cyclooxygenase, or COX.
Foods can have an anti-inflammatory effect when they block COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. For example, research has shown that healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids work like ibuprofen. They act as COX inhibitors and help to reduce inflammation and pain.
Natural Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Include in Your Diet
Let’s look in more detail at the many foods you can include in an anti-inflammatory diet. Doctors on WebMD say that natural anti-inflammatory foods include spices, herbs, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, oily fish, nuts and legumes.
Turmeric for Inflammation
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin that many say could be one of the strongest natural anti-inflammatory compounds. Many clinical trials have shown that turmeric can help to combat acute and chronic inflammation. In fact, many people call curcumin one of the strongest natural anti-inflammatories.
For example, the journal Foods reported on a number of studies highlighting the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Curcumin blocks inflammatory substances (cytokines) like tumor necrosis factor alpha cells (TNFα). By reducing inflammation naturally, curcumin can protect against Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and metabolic syndrome.
Turmeric should be included in the anti-inflammatory diet because curcumin reduces inflammation by blocking COX-2. Taking natural anti-inflammatory supplements such as curcumin can help to treat the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, gastric inflammation, diabetes, and prostatitis.
The benefit of taking curcumin as a natural alternative to Voltaren (a popular NSAID) is that curcumin reduces inflammation without the adverse effects NSAIDs cause. A review of 8 randomized clinical trials found that taking 500 mg curcumin daily was as effective in treating arthritis pain like ibuprofen or Voltaren.
Research published in 2018 found that turmeric extracts (curcumin) can help to prevent and inhibit the spread of cancer.
Clinical trials have also shown that curcumin from turmeric can boost the health of people who are already healthy. For example, taking 400 mg turmeric extract helped to improve mood and alertness and, at the same time, lower stress and fatigue.
So add turmeric to meat, poultry and vegetables dishes, or take a curcumin supplement after consulting with your doctor in case of severe inflammation. Since turmeric has low bio-availability in the body and is poorly absorbed, you can read my article on how to optimize turmeric absorption in the body. You can also read my article on how cooking and heat affect turmeric, so you know how to use it in cooking and how to avoid nutrient loss.
Ginger is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Food to Include in Your Diet
Ginger is another natural remedy you can use for treating inflammation and pain. Ginger is closely related to turmeric and is a spice with similar inflammation-reducing properties.
The International Journal of Preventative Medicine reports that ginger’s anti-inflammatory compounds are gingerol, shogaol, and paradol. Ginger helps to suppress inflammation-related substances like TNFα and COX-2. This effect can help treat symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.
Some research suggests that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect of dried ginger also boosts cardiovascular health. One trial found that taking 5 g of ginger a day can help to reduce blood clotting, blood pressure, and blood fats.
Another study found that taking ginger and cinnamon supplements helped reduce muscle pain in women athletes. Taking ginger as a natural anti-inflammatory supplement could be good if you have diabetes. Research has found that ginger blocks inflammatory responses in diabetic patients.
Many people recommend to use the fresh root rather than the dried ground one, however recent studies reveal that ground ginger can also contribute a lot to our health – read more about it in my article about the amazing benefits of cooked and dried ginger. Use it in various stews or teas or add to smoothies. Find here a recipe for anti-inflammatory and pain relief turmeric ginger tea.
Garlic Helps to Reduce Inflammation
Garlic is one of the many foods you can take to fight inflammation. The reason that garlic is a powerful natural treatment for inflammation is that it contains sulfur-rich compounds.
The Journal of Medicinal Food reports that compounds such as ajoene and allicin inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines. Research has also revealed that garlic compounds are also antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. Garlic is described as a promising medicinal agent to treat inflammation-related diseases.
Other studies have shown that the organosulfur compounds in garlic have a powerful anti-cancer effect. Scientific studies have shown that garlic’s anti-inflammatory compounds boost the immune system and can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. (19)
Oily Fish or Omega-3 are Natural Anti-Inflammatories
A natural way to reduce inflammation is to eat oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, or tuna. Or, you can take omega-3 capsules as a supplement for inflammation. The reason that oily fish is a powerful natural inflammation-fighting food is due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid with numerous health benefits. Scientific research has revealed that supplementing your diet with fish oils such as omega-3 helps to lower chronic inflammation. Omega-3 is a useful supplement to take if you have arthritis, inflammatory digestive problems, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Scientists say that taking omega-3 anti-inflammatory supplements can lower your need for taking NSAIDs.
In fact, one study found that anti-inflammatory fish oil omega-3 supplements were just as effective as ibuprofen in treating arthritic pain, back pain, and neck pain. The benefit of this anti-inflammatory supplement is that omega-3 is a safer and healthier option than NSAIDs.
Another reason to take omega-3 for inflammation is that is can help to address an imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3. Researchers say that a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the diet can result in inflammation. Taking omega-3 can help to reduce inflammation and inhibit the production of inflammatory compounds.
When choosing the best omega-3 supplements, it is important to check the EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) content.
Virgin Coconut Oil Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Coconut oil has a place on the anti-inflammatory foods’ list because it contains lauric acid. The health benefits of coconut come from medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), from which lauric acid is the main component.
Research published in 2018 found that the MCTs from virgin coconut oil can help to reduce inflammatory responses in people with metabolic syndrome. Scientists found that supplementing the diet of mice with coconut oil reduced obesity and inflammation as well as blood glucose levels. It was suggested that coconut oil is an anti-inflammatory food that has the potential to prevent obesity and its associated inflammation responses.
Studies involving rats have shown that virgin coconut oil can lower inflammation that is the result of cancer treatment. One study found that virgin coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
Did you know that there are over 30 uses for coconut oil? These include using coconut oil as a skin moisturizer, wound healing, getting rid of wrinkles, relieving arthritis symptoms, and much more.
Learn how to incorporate coconut oil into your diet in my article about cooking with coconut oil.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Reduce Inflammation Naturally
Another oil that you can use in the anti-inflammatory diet is extra virgin olive oil.
Researchers say that your diet can either help to reduce inflammation or actually cause inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil contains an anti-inflammatory phenolic compound called oleocanthal. Studies have shown that oleocanthal from olive oil has a similar inflammation-lowering effect as ibuprofen.
Other studies have shown that increasing olive oil in your diet helps to reduce inflammation and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. Olive oil is also a COX inhibitor that helps reduce inflammatory responses in the body. In fact, some studies showed that oleocanthal was a more effective anti-inflammatory than ibuprofen.
A diet rich in anti-inflammatory olive oil has been shown to reduce joint pain, improve brain health, and have a protective effect against cancer. Learn more about the many health benefits of consuming extra virgin olive oil and why the Mediterranean diet can help improve your heart health.
Avocados May Help Reduce Inflammation
Avocados are another natural anti-inflammatory food that are packed full of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Avocados contain unsaturated fatty acids that help fight inflammation. Researchers have discovered that avocados are anti-inflammatory and help to protect cardiovascular health. Avocado fruits reduce the effects of oxidative stress and improve blood flow.
Consuming avocados has also been linked to helping lower symptoms of osteoarthritis, improving skin health, preventing DNA cell damage, as well as having anti-cancerous effect.
Tomatoes Are a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Food
Tomatoes are also on the list of the best anti-inflammatory foods. Scientific studies into the anti-inflammatory effect of tomatoes have found that there are a number of reasons why tomatoes are good at inhibiting inflammation.
Tomatoes are an anti-inflammatory food due to a compound called lycopene. However, the rich content of vitamins C and E, as well as quercetin, phenolic acids, and tannins all add to the anti-inflammatory properties of tomatoes. Lycopene has also been associated with helping to protect against various types of cancer.
Research has also shown that phytochemicals in tomatoes fight inflammatory responses in the body. The antioxidant and nutritional content of tomatoes help reduce symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, cancer, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.
One clinical trial involving 106 overweight women found that consuming 330 ml of tomato juice daily helped to reduce the risk of developing inflammatory diseases. Tomato juice helped to protect against some of the adverse symptoms of obesity that are associated with inflammation.
Dark-Colored Fruits and Vegetables are Natural Anti Inflammatory Foods
Vegetables and fruits that have blue, purple, or red colored skins or flesh are natural anti-inflammatory foods.
Many dark-colored vegetables and fruits have especially powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. Here are a few examples:
Blueberries. Research published in 2018 found that the blueberry has an anti-inflammatory compound called anthocyanin. Research has found that this anti-inflammatory berry could protect against eye degeneration associated with diabetes. As well as reducing inflammation, anthocyanin boosts the immune system..
Grapes. Red and white grapes have compounds that act as natural COX-2 inhibitors. For example, research has found that grape powder helps to inhibit COX-2 expression and has an anti-tumor effect.
Beetroot. One trial found that compounds in beetroot help to lower inflammation and improve cardiovascular health. Green leafy vegetables also have a similar heart-protective effect. Read more about the amazing health benefits of beetroot in my previous article.
Purple potatoes. The pigment that gives purple potatoes their unique color is also a natural anti-inflammatory compound. Research published in 2017 found that anthocyanin in potatoes with purple flesh help to lower intestinal inflammation and protect against colon cancer.
Cherries. Tart cherry juice is known to relieve joint pain and gout, and also has anti cancer properties. All cherries contain anthocyanins, and tart cherries contain the highest level of this potent red pigment, thus have the strongest healing potential.
Pomegranate. New research that is looking into the healing properties of pomegranate is underway at the University of Huddersfield, England. The fuchsia-colored fruit has been known to help with many different health conditions, and the newest data also connects it with slowing down inflammation which contributes to the destruction of brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease.
Punicalagin is a chemical compound that is found in pomegranate fruit. It is a polyphenol, which is an antioxidant that prevents cell proliferation and invasion, and causes cell death in some types of cancer.
The researchers noted that most of the antioxidant compounds are found in the outer skin of the pomegranate, not in the soft part of the fruit, so the peel may be a source of drugs in the future. They believe that pomegranate will be useful in other inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
Red onions. Onions are a rich source of unique antioxidants and dietary flavonoids. Research has found that red onions have more antioxidants then yellow onions. Red onions also contain anthocyanins which have benefits in protecting against numerous diseases. In fact, anthocyanins may make up about 10% of the total flavonoid content in red onion.
Quercetin is another important antioxidant contained in onions. Research has shown that quercetin has antimicrobial properties and can help to lower blood pressure. Quercetin is also more prevalent in red onions than in yellow and white ones. Other studies have shown that the sulfur-containing compounds in onions have anticancer properties. (50) Read more about the health benefits of onions in my previous article.
Cinnamon is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Spice
Increasing your intake of cinnamon or taking cinnamon supplements could be an effective way to combat the effects of chronic inflammation.
Studies have found that chemicals in cinnamon are helpful for treating indigestion, gastrointestinal upset, and various inflammatory diseases. Cinnamic acid helps to inhibit certain inflammatory markers. Researchers have concluded that you can use cinnamon as an anti-inflammatory supplement.
Find out more about the amazing health benefits of cinnamon, why Ceylon cinnamon is the best type of cinnamon to consume, and how to make your own delicious anti-inflammatory cinnamon tea.
Cayenne Pepper Helps Reduce Inflammation
It may surprise you to learn that cayenne pepper is among the many foods and spices that fight inflammation. The hot spicy taste of cayenne pepper and other chilies come from a compound called capsaicin. Research has found that capsaicin extracts act as natural pain inhibitors and help reduce inflammation.
Some studies have shown that capsaicin is as effective as diclofenac – an NSAID commonly sold under the name Voltaren. Other studies have shown that extracts from cayenne pepper have an anti-inflammatory effect in relieving gastric inflammation and improving cardiovascular health.
Some researchers have found that taking capsaicin supplements can help to protect the gastric lining from inflammation caused by the long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
A review published in 2018 on studies into the anti-inflammatory effect of capsaicin found that cayenne pepper can help prevent many chronic diseases. Compounds in cayenne pepper inhibit inflammatory responses in the body. This was also shown to have anticancer potential in laboratory tests.
Learn more about the many more therapeutic uses of cayenne pepper and how capsaicin cream can help reduce skin inflammation and relieve arthritis pain.
Nuts are a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Food
Consuming more nuts in your diet is one of the many natural ways to get rid of inflammation. Nuts are a good source of healthy fats and dietary fiber which have combined effect in fighting inflammation.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that increase nut consumption lowered inflammation in humans. A study involving over 5,000 persons found that eating tree nuts reduced the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Consuming 3 servings of nuts per week instead of red meat or refined grains helped to inhibit the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein and interleukin 6.
Which Foods to Avoid to Prevent Inflammation?
While it’s easy to use available foods in every home to reduce inflammation without the heavy price tag the body pays for prolonged use of drugs, it is important to avoid inflammatory-causing foods at the same time.
1. Avoid foods that trigger allergies
Many of us are allergic to certain foods that provoke severe reactions in our body, such as intestinal infections, skin problems, throat irritation, red eyes and more. Even lower levels of allergies, such as lactose intolerance, or gluten sensitivity can cause serious health problems.
Some foods are known as common allergens such as dairy products, wheat, eggs and nuts. So even if a certain food appears in the anti-inflammatory food list, it may not be suitable for you if you have sensitivity or allergy to it.
In order to reduce allergy – and hence reduce inflammation – you should try to find the foods that you are allergic to, and check whether you need to eliminate one or more of these foods from your menu.
2. Avoid fried foods to prevent inflammation
Deep fried foods have an appetizing smell and taste, but they cause a lot of damage to your body, including inflammation. One medical study suggested that fried foods can be associated with higher inflammatory markers.
3. Avoid processed meat and red meat
One medical study found a connection between aonsumption of red and processed meat and inflammation. The researchers also concluded that this inflammatory response may also cause cancer.